No Ahmad Bradshaw? No Hakeem Nicks? No problem for the Giants as their offense picked apart the Panthers at will Thursday night on their way to a 36-7 victory. With Bradshaw out due to a neck injury, Andre Brown followed up his solid Week 2 performance with 130 yards from scrimmage and two more touchdowns. Ramses Barden filled in for Nicks, who was surprisingly ruled out on Wednesday because of his foot injury. Barden had caught 16 passes from 2009 through Week 2; he caught nine passes for 138 yards last night.
This is going to get interesting when Bradshaw and Nicks are able to return to the lineup, so let's try to sort this out.
Well, Nicks and Victor Cruz are still the Giants' clear top two WRs. But remember how an unknown Cruz put together some big games early last season and became a breakout star even when Nicks and Mario Manningham were on the field? A similar scenario could be taking shape with Barden. I wouldn't put him in my lineup next week if Nicks is active, but he's definitely worth a pickup. Barden is a huge target, knows how to use his body to box out defensive backs and has very strong hands for plucking throws out of the air, as he did impressively a few times last night.
Brown is more intriguing than Barden to me because when you consider what he has shown through the past seven quarters, I'm not sure if Bradshaw is this team's best running back any longer. He certainly looked slow in Week 1, and Brown has shown that he deserves more playing time going forward. This could turn into a timeshare, but the bigger news here is that Bradshaw has gone from a strong RB2 just a few weeks ago to a shaky week-to-week play because of Brown's emergence. Try to deal him now and see what you can get because of his name recognition.
Two final quick notes: No matter who gets hurt and can't play, the Giants keep showing the world that they have superb depth, and Eli Manning will keep putting up big numbers no matter who is on the field.
And secondly, David Wilson got one carry last night and can be safely dropped in re-draft leagues. Acknowledging that hurts me deeply.